Thursday, September 30, 2010

Concast charges when their line goes bad

On Labor Day Saturday we came home to discover the phone line down. So we called Comcast on the cell. They said they’d send out Emergency Repair, since otherwise we wouldn’t have service until Tuesday. (Good thing, neither of us could wait around on Tuesday for them to show. We have real jobs. It’s how we pay their bills, though that seems to escape them).

The guy showed up and went over our system. He asked if the phones had ever worked since they were installed some 14 months ago when we moved in.

Yes, we said, we’d have noticed if we were paying for phone service and not getting it.

He traced the system, some more. Finally he said the problem was in the line Comcast had installed in the kitchen. The only way to fix it was to disconnect the kitchen phone. Fine. So he did, and Comcast’s wonderful phone service was restored. Except to the Kitchen where we had had service for 14 months.

Today I got the bill. For disconnecting the service in the kitchen, which Comcast had installed, they charged us $28.99 for a “trouble call.”

If you use Comcast, and their installation goes bad, it will cost you.

Yup, that’s trouble.


Thank God it wasn't a Qur'an

Or President Obama would have spoken out. Just immigrants exercizing their rights to trash what some of us still hold scared. No big deal in America.

Political Digest September 30, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Random Thoughts by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: I would vote against anyone who plays the race card. Race and politics have been an explosive mixture in countries around the world….This is truly the "me" generation, when someone will release secret information that includes who has been helping us in the fight against terrorism-- information that can get girls' faces mutilated and their parents beheaded by our Islamic terrorist enemies….Politicians often act as if you can create costs without creating consequences. Force insurance companies to cover more things and then act surprised when the premiums go up. Mandate more benefits for employers to provide for their employees and then act surprised when they don't hire as many workers. It is great political theater but lousy economic policy….How anyone can read history and still believe in political messiahs is beyond me. The fact that it has become possible to graduate from even our most prestigious colleges and universities, still fundamentally ignorant of history, may have much to do with our electing a political messiah to the White House-- for which we, our children and grandchildren will pay dearly….Do people understand that the world toward which the Obama administration is leading us is a world where individuals' economic well-being is no longer determined by how much their goods and services are valued by those pay for them, but by politicians in Washington? The counterproductive economic consequences of this are dwarfed by the harm done by making us all dependents and supplicants of "public servants" who become in reality public masters.

Anti-austerity protests sweep across Europe
Euro-socialism has created a majority for fiscal collapse and social chaos. Obama & company want to bring it here. I have seen the future—and it’s ugly. ~Bob. Excerpt: Anti-austerity protests erupted across Europe on Wednesday — Greek doctors and railway employees walked out, Spanish workers shut down trains and buses, and one man even blocked the Irish parliament with a cement truck to decry the country's enormous bank bailouts. Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of Brussels toward European Union buildings in bright red, green and blue labor union jackets, aiming to reinforce the impact of Spain's first nationwide strike in eight years. Strikes or protests were also taking place Wednesday in Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia and Lithuania, all aimed at the budget-slashing, tax-hiking, pension-cutting austerity plans that European governments have implemented to try to control their debt. The march in Brussels was taking place just as the EU Commission proposed new penalties to punish member states that have run up deficits, mainly to fund social programs in a time of high unemployment. The proposal, backed by Germany, is running into strong opposition from France, which wants politicians to decide on sanctions, not rigid rules alone.

Senate Democrats eager to pass spending measure and leave D.C.
Excerpt: Democrats eager to return to the campaign trail are rushing to hold a vote on a continuing resolution that would fund the government until the lame-duck session. The Senate is zipping through its work on the spending measure, which could be completed Wednesday if Republicans agree to waive procedural objections. The Senate was scheduled to stay in town through next week but has opted instead to leave a stack of bills for the post-election session, including any decisions on the George W. Bush-era tax cuts. Lawmakers aren’t scheduled to return to Washington until Nov. 15. Democrats in the House, who are just as eager to return home, given the challenging election outlook for their party, are expected to bring up a vote on the resolution within hours of Senate passage, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday.

GOP wants Waters, Rangel on trial before midterm election
Excerpt: Republicans on the House ethics committee are calling on Democrats to schedule the public trials of charges against Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) before the November elections. In an unusual break from the bipartisan secrecy the panel normally maintains, Rep. Jo Bonner (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the ethics committee, issued a public statement accusing Democrats of “stalling” the resolution of the Rangel and Waters matters. “It is in the best interest of transparency and fairness to the American people, Representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters, and other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, that the House ethics committee stop stalling the resolution of the Rangel and Waters matters and complete these public trails prior to the November elections,” Bonner said in a lengthy written statement signed by himself and the four other GOP members of the ethics panel. (That Swamp-draining sure takes time, don’t it? ~Bob.)

AZ tourism bounces back from boycott
Excerpt: At FireSky Resort and Spa, Jim Hollister's inbox swelled with e-mails from guests demanding cancellations just after SB 1070 became law. But the general manager of the luxury resort said business has been pleasantly brisk lately as fewer customers seem fazed by Arizona's controversial immigration law. 'I was watching carefully how business has been rolling in,' Hollister said. 'My summer business has never been better. … So people are traveling.' SB 1070, which makes it a state crime for an immigrant to be here without documents, triggered a boycott on Arizona's tourism industry and caused hundreds of hotel cancellations when it was signed into law in April.

Who wins, loses from mass immigration to California?
Excerpt: If you are middle-class and college-educated, immigrants make your busy life a little easier – and cheaper. Over the past generation, immigrants like manicurist Trang Le, a citizen, and cosmetologist Maria Rosa, who immigrated illegally, have flocked to the hairdressing and cosmetology business. Since 1970, wages in that field have dropped by 20 percent. Immigrants like Martha, an undocumented worker in Anaheim, have largely taken over the housekeeping business. Wages for housekeepers have dropped by 30 percent since 1970. No state and almost no developed economy has absorbed so many immigrant workers so quickly as California. The arrival of more than 5 million foreign workers over the past four decades raises a basic question: Who wins, and who loses? Among foes of immigration, particularly illegal immigration, it is an article of faith that everyone loses. Immigrants, they say, have driven down wages for natives while saddling taxpayers with billions of dollars for public services. But the truth is that there are winners and losers. The winners from mass migration are the people in the middle and at the top of the economic pyramid. The losers are those at the bottom. Economists agree that immigrants have depressed wages for the least-educated workers. In California, where immigrants dominate the ranks of the least educated, that means immigrants largely are hurting other immigrants. The burden on taxpayers is a murkier issue. In 2007, the president's Council of Economic Advisers concluded that over the long term, immigrants contribute more in taxes than they consume in services. But other studies say that the poorest and least-educated immigrants – including most illegal immigrants – cost more than they pay.

New Cybersecurity Bill Gives Obama ‘Power To Shut Down Companies’
Excerpt: An amalgamated cybersecurity bill that lawmakers hope to pass before the end of the year includes new powers which would allow President Obama to shut down not only entire areas of the Internet, but also businesses and industries that fail to comply with government orders following the declaration of a national emergency – increasing fears that the legislation will be abused as a political tool. The draft bill is a combination of two pieces of legislation originally crafted by Senators Lieberman and Rockefeller. One of the differences between the new bill and the original Lieberman version is that the Internet “kill switch” power has been limited to 90 days without congressional oversight, rather than the original period of four months contained in the Lieberman bill. In other words, President Obama can issue an emergency declaration that lasts 30 days and he can renew it for a further 60 days before congress can step in to oversee the powers. The new powers would give Obama a free hand to not only shut down entire areas of the Internet and block all Internet traffic from certain countries, but under the amalgamated bill he would also have the power to completely shut down industries that don’t follow government orders, according to a Reuters summary of the new bill. (Don’t go all paranoid. It would take a real emergency for him to do this. "The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures...The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one." Like, say, a fire in the Reichstag. ~Bob.)

Joel Pollak ad
Nice ad. Joel is the candidate we are supporting in our district. He’s running against Rep. Jan Shesacommie (if I’ve spelled that right). Tough district, but he’s running a great campaign.

Quiz on religion
Ten for ten.

President Obama on Zakat
From my reading, it is one of the “Five Pillars of Islam” and is charity for fellow Muslims, but not kuffer or infidels, which is why there are reports of non-Muslims being denied aid that is being distributed in Pakistan, following the flooding there. I have not read that there is a requirement that 1/8th of the charity goes to “Islamic Military Operations,” though I have read several books on Islam, pro and con, and many articles. Readers? ~Bob.

ObamaCare's Tax Credit System Will Make April 15 Even Harder
Excerpt: Due to ObamaCare, millions of Americans may need to spend even more time on the income tax returns that they file in 2015 and beyond — and many will discover they owe the tax man more than before.

Red Tape Rises Again: Cost of Regulation Reaches $1.75 Trillion
That “Trillion” with a “T” and it comes out of your pocket, but it creates jobs for lawyers, accountants, clerks, and so on, so it’s a “stimulus.” ~Bob. Excerpt: How much does federal regulation cost Americans each year? The question is not an easy one. While the revenues and expenditures of the government are budgeted and accounted for each year, the costs of regulation are largely hidden from view, paid for indirectly via higher prices, fewer choices, and less innovation. The best estimates of the total cost, however, have come from a series of reports commissioned by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The latest such report was released today by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, and the results are startling. Rules and restrictions imposed from Washington now cost Americans some $1.75 trillion each year. That is sharply higher that the $1.1 trillion in costs reported in 2005 in the SBA’s last such study.

"Consumer Safety" Bill Could Boomerang against U.S. Manufacturers
Excerpt: Barriers to trade can be straightforward and transparent, even if wrongheaded, such as a 27.5 percent tariff that certain members of Congress threatened to impose on imports from China. Or barriers can take the form of rules and regulations proposed in the name of protecting public health and safety but that have a secondary effect of restricting trade. An example of such a non-tariff barrier is legislation now before Congress called the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act (FMLAA). The sponsors of the legislation claim that their principal goal is to protect American consumers from unsafe foreign products, but there are warning signs that the bill may be more about restricting trade than protecting the public. Introduced earlier this year in the House and the Senate, the FMLAA would require any foreign producer selling goods in the U.S. market to designate a legal agent located in the United States who could be served papers in a product liability suit. The agent would be required to register in a state with a substantial connection to the importation, distribution, and sale of the product. By registering an agent, the foreign producer would agree to accept the jurisdiction of the state and federal courts of the state where the agent is located.

An Annoying Regulation for Every Room in the House
Excerpt: The Obama administration isn’t satisfied giving the American people several big things we don’t want — the stimulus package, expanded bailouts, Obamacare — but it is also hitting us with a multitude of bothersome regulations. Perhaps most annoying of all is Washington’s attempt to redesign home appliances. Just weeks after taking office, the president announced an accelerated process to create stringent new energy efficiency standards for nearly everything around the house that uses energy. The Department of Energy is well on its way towards accomplishing this goal, boasting of more than 20 such regulations since President Obama came to office. If past experience is any guide, these regulations will raise the purchase price of appliances — in some cases more than is ever likely to be earned back in the form of energy savings. Worse, several may adversely impact product performance and reliability. There are potentially problematic regulations on the way for virtually every room in the house.

Big Green: Global warming and EPA's threat to regulate everything
Third part of five. EPA regulation of CO2 will actually be more invasive than an attempt to "control" the use of oxygen would be. Most plants produce oxygen as a waste product from consuming CO2, but all animals (including humans) require it for life. Ron P. Excerpt: In 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency concluded that it lacked authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions as the cause of global warming. Because carbon emissions result from nearly all economic activity, the ruling made sense, as Congress never intended the EPA to regulate the entire economy. But Big Green environmentalists were outraged. They teamed with allies in state and local governments to sue the EPA to force it to reverse its ruling in a case known as Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency. The petitioners in the case featured multiple Big Green outfits that specialize in litigating environmental causes, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Conservation Law Foundation. Litigants on both sides were astounded when in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the EPA does indeed have the authority to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. Critics called it a fundamentally flawed decision and predicted its reversal in the near future. But until then, Massachusetts is probably the most significant legal decision in Big Green's history because it opens the door to the agency using global warming as a threat to justify its regulation of anything that can be remotely linked to carbon creation or use.

Turning Waste Heat Into Power
Excerpt: "Thermoelectricity makes it possible to cleanly convert heat directly into electrical energy in a device with no moving parts," said lead author Justin Bergfield, a doctoral candidate in the UA College of Optical Sciences. "Our colleagues in the field tell us they are pretty confident that the devices we have designed on the computer can be built with the characteristics that we see in our simulations. We anticipate the thermoelectric voltage using our design to be about 100 times larger than what others have achieved in the lab," Stafford added. Catching the energy lost through waste heat has been on the wish list of engineers for a long time but, so far, a concept for replacing existing devices that is both more efficient and economically competitive has been lacking. Unlike existing heat-conversion devices such as refrigerators and steam turbines, the devices of Bergfield and Stafford require no mechanics and no ozone-depleting chemicals. Instead, a rubber-like polymer sandwiched between two metals acting as electrodes can do the trick. Car or factory exhaust pipes could be coated with the material, less than 1 millionth of an inch thick, to harvest energy otherwise lost as heat and generate electricity. (Wow. This is an exciting development. Effectively, we get to "re-use" the energy in the waste heat several times over before it cools to ambient temperature (it could probably be jiggered to work from "cold," too, as the charge is produced by temperature difference, not a particular temperature). If these can be made cheaply enough, they may be the true "green power" source everyone has dreamed of for decades. While the use of oil and coal will never be eliminated, this might significantly reduce it. It'll be interesting to see if there is any attempt at commercial application in the next few years. Ron P.)

'Mumbai-Style' Terror Attack in Europe Foiled
Assuming they weren’t enraged Presbyterians, they apparently didn’t get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo from Obama. ~Bob. Excerpt: A commando-style terror plot that allegedly called for simultaneous attacks in multiple European cities has been disrupted, a senior U.S. intelligence official told Fox News late Tuesday, after the CIA launched a barrage of drone strikes in Pakistan to help thwart the plot. The plan allegedly included attacks on hotels frequented by Western tourists in London, as well as cities in France and Germany, and was in an "advanced but not imminent stage," Sky News reported. The plotters were purportedly of Pakistani or Algerian origin and have been trained in Pakistan's tribal areas. While officials are still working to understand the plot, a leading concern is that the plotters were modeling their European assault on the 2008 attack in Mumbai, India, in which armed gunmen killed more than 200 people in coordinated attacks at hotels and other easily accessed venues, current and former officials said. Several U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal they haven't seen a terror threat as serious as the European plot for many years. "This isn't just your typical Washington talk about how the threats have evolved. People are very concerned about what they're seeing," the counterterrorism official said.

The Protectionist Threat of Another Great Depression
Excerpt: A financial bubble fueled by easy money and loose credit bursts. Unemployment shoots up, and gross domestic product falls sharply. Some in the U.S. Congress blame foreigners for unfair trade practices and pass a trade bill that prompts widespread retaliation, exacerbates the popping of the bubble, and sends the country into further economic trouble. That is what happened with the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 and the Great Depression. Americans might hope our leaders would learn from our past mistakes. But the leftist majority in Congress, aided by some misguided members of the minority, is trying to repeat this terrible history. At issue is H.R. 2378 or the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act. The bill would grant new powers to the Obama administration, allowing them to raise tariffs on imports if the Commerce Department determines that an exporting country is manipulating its currency. Its not known what President Obama would do should this bill hit his desk. A real leader would let it be known loud and clear that it faces certain veto. The protectionist proponents of this bill believe that Chinese currency manipulation is artificially lowering the price of Chinese goods imported into the United States while inflating the price of U.S.-made exports. In 1930, the protectionists thought they could help American manufacturers by punishing foreigners. They were tragically wrong. The same misguided logic is being applied to China now. Heritage Foundation Research Fellow Derek Scissors explains why higher tariffs on Chinese imports would not help the U.S. economy: (The crash of ’29 produced unemployment of around 9%, a bit lower than today. The Smoot-Hawley protectionist tariff bill drove it to 25% in two years, as international trade collapsed. But the protectionists never learn. ~Bob.)

Pakistan, A Nuclear Proliferator, Will Chair U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Agency
Excerpt: The United Nations nuclear watchdog has appointed Pakistan to chair its governing board. Pakistan is responsible for the most serious known case of illicit nuclear proliferation in history, and it is blocking progress on a treaty to ban production of fissile material used to fuel atomic weapons. The 35-member International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board made the decision in Vienna Monday “by acclamation” – that is, no country objected or called for a roll-call vote. Board members include the United States, Canada, Australia and nine European nations. Pakistan was nominated by the Middle East and South Asia group at the IAEA. (...) Pakistan has held the post of IAEA board chairman before, but that was more than a decade before its widely-condemned nuclear bomb tests in 1998. In 2004 it emerged that the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, had been running a sophisticated black-market ring, providing nuclear know-how to Iran, North Korea and Libya. President Pervez Musharraf insisted the activity was unsanctioned and pardoned Khan, who is regarded as a national hero in Pakistan. (Isn't this like giving the keys to the convent to a known rapist? Ron P. For shame, Ron. Trying to stop them from committing mass murder is “Islamophobic! ~Bob.)

Sarkozy's planned crackdown on illegal immigration is introduced as legislation
Excerpt: The French government introduced tough new immigration legislation Tuesday that would make it easier to expel illegal residents and strip recently naturalized citizens of their French passports. The bill translates into law a July 30 announcement by President Nicolas Sarkozy that, in a bid to curb crime, he was going to crack down on illegal immigrants, in particular Roma from Eastern Europe, who officials say commit up to 20 percent of the robberies in the Paris region. Since then, about 1,000 Roma, or Gypsy, immigrants have been shipped back to Bulgaria and Romania, and about half of their estimated 150 unauthorized camps across the country have been dismantled. (France and many European nations are now deporting their illegal aliens. I wonder if Obama's DOJ will sue France? –DH)

Chicago News Outlets Miss That FBI Targeted Protester is Chief Steward for SEIU
Excerpt: One might think it would be big news that a Chief Steward for a Local chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is being investigated by the FBI for possible connection to overseas terror networks. Apparently, though, several Chicago news outlets didn’t see a reason to add this little fact to their stories. And even if it wasn’t big news that the FBI is investigating a union member, one would think that his profession would at least make an appearance somewhere in properly formulated coverage of the story… right? Over the weekend the FBI announced that it was investigating Joseph Iosbaker for possible connections to overseas terror groups. Iosbaker and his wife Stephanie Weiner, both anti-war activists, are suspected of activities “concerning the material support of terrorism.” The Chicago news has been all over the demonstrations that left-wing groups have mounted in Chicago to protest the FBI’s investigation of the anti-war activists. These stories are filled with all sorts of facts, dates and names. But in a significant handful of stories one little fact seems to have escaped the notice of these hardnosed journalists. Iosbaker is an SEIU union member. And not just a rank and file member but an official. According to the SEIU Local 73 website, Iosbaker is listed as the Local 73 Chief Steward. (Wonder why Fox News is the leading cable news show? ~Bob.)

Quotes from The Patriot Post
"We demand entire freedom of action and then expect the government in some miraculous way to save us from the consequences of our own acts.... Self-government means self-reliance." --President Calvin Coolidge (1873-1933)
"There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him." --American writer Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988)

White House scorecard: MSNBC up, bloggers down
Excerpt: The vice president told Democrats to “stop whining,” the president told them to “buck up,” and if there was any remaining doubt that press secretary Robert Gibbs’s exasperation over the summer with the “professional left” was the official view of the White House, they dispelled it this week. But who, exactly, makes up this “professional left” that is so bothering President Barack Obama and his advisers? On Tuesday, Gibbs’s deputy, Bill Burton, made it clear that the occasionally critical cable personalities originally associated with this comment have the administration’s blessing. "If you're on the left, if you're somebody like Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow or one of the folks who helps to keep our government honest and pushes and prods to make sure that folks are true to progressive values, then [the president] thinks that those folks provide an invaluable service,” Burton told reporters. Noticeably absent from Burton’s embrace was anyone from the blogosphere once courted so avidly by the White House. Peter Daou thinks he knows why: “With each passing day, I’m beginning to realize that the crux of the problem for Obama is a handful of prominent progressive bloggers, among them Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher.” (Heh. Kind of like the French revolution produced the Reign of Terror, as the progressives of the day sent each other to the guillotine for disagreeing with the vision. The revolution eats its own. ~Bob.)

The Dead Just Keep On Voting
Why should they lose their rights just because they are disabled? In fact, given that death is the ultimate disability, I’d be surprised if the Democrats weren’t sending them welfare checks and setting up job training programs for corpses. ~Bob. Excerpt: Isn’t modern medicine wonderful? A hundred years ago, the average life expectancy in the United States was 47 years. In 2009, the federal government recently announced that it is 78 years. And, now, in an age when NASA has machines roving Mars, many states are extending the voting life of citizens for years after they are medically pronounced dead. There are 116,000 dead eligible voters in Massachusetts. And in Florida, one major newspaper recently investigated and reported that almost 15,000 dead Floridians are still hanging around on the election rolls – just six weeks before one of the most vicious and important election cycles in our history. Can it be the sun? Most States have similar statistics. Every two years, states must report to the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) information about the integrity and accuracy of their voter rolls. The latest report is not good news for our democracy – or our international reputation. South Dakota, Texas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Indiana report in excess of a dozen counties with more registered voters than breathing human beings old enough to vote. West Virginia, Maryland, Iowa and North Carolina also reported having eligible deceased voters on their rolls. The list goes on and on. And so does the real risk that these voters will have illegal votes registered in their names. Close races, like the Franken/Coleman race in Minnesota can be decided on just a handful of votes. We may have to go to purple thumbprints at this rate. Hugo Chavez must be howling at this American disgrace

Gov. Strickland (D, OH) supporter attacks war veteran at rally.
Excerpt: Do you know this guy? Because he went after a Iraq War veteran at a Ted Strickland rally. Dumped hot coffee on him, then came back later to give said veteran the finger (in case you were wondering whether it was deliberate or not). The cops would like to discuss the matter with the assailant….

Police: Terrorists plan to turn Indonesia into Afghanistan, Iraq
Excerpt: The National Police have learned that terrorists aim to wage a war in cities across Indonesia, which will turn the country into strife-torn Afghanistan and Iraq. National Police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri told a televised press conference on Friday the terrorists might recruit warriors from overseas.

Intolerance ‘on the rise’ among Muslims‘-rise’-among-muslims.html
Excerpt: Religious intolerance among Indonesian Muslims has increased in the last 10 years, a new study shows, indicating a link with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the country. The survey results were announced Tuesday by the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM), an independent research center at the State Islamic University (UIN) in Jakarta. The findings confirmed the results of previous surveys by other study groups. PPIM executive director Jajat Burhanudin said his center’s study was conducted nationwide between 2001 and 2010, each year surveying different groups of 1,200 Muslim men and women aged 17 and above, mostly elementary and junior high school graduate from various backgrounds. “The study used several indicators to measure tolerance such as the level of objection among Muslims to non-Muslims teaching their children in public schools, and to plans by non-Muslims to building houses of worship,” he said. The survey showed that non-acceptance levels among the surveyed Muslims toward the construction of churches and other non-Muslim religious buildings in 2010 was 57.8 percent, the highest ever recorded since 2001 (40.5 percent).

The Madison Avenue Approach to Health Policy
Excerpt: Can you sell health reform the way you sell toothpaste? Can you stop health reform the way you sell soap? A lot of people apparently believe so. I would guess that in the 10 months leading up to the vote on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), proponents and opponents spent more than $200 million on TV, radio and newsprint advertisements. These ads were produced by agencies that basically knew nothing about health care. The clients of these agencies were groups that often knew nothing about health care. The funding often came from donors who knew nothing about health care. By “knew nothing” I mean they did not understand health care as a complex system. That means they had no idea how you could solve real problems — like controlling costs, raising quality and improving access to care. To add insult to injury, most of the people who engaged in the ad wars knew very little about what became known as “ObamaCare.”

Hard hitting WV Senate ad

Fox News Polls: Democrats Face Tough Job Building Senate Firewall
Excerpt: When President Obama arrives in Wisconsin for a campus rally on Tuesday, he'll be visiting a state where his party and his policies are in big trouble with voters. Democrats are hoping to build a firewall with cash infusions and special attention from the president around a group of incumbent senators to preserve a majority in the upper chamber. But the latest round of Fox News battleground state polls suggests Democrats have their work cut out for them, especially in Wisconsin where incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold is trailing his Republican challenger badly. The latest surveys were conducted on Sept. 25 in Wisconsin, Washington, Colorado, Ohio and Illinois by Pulse Opinion Research for Fox News. Each survey included 1,000 likely voters and has a margin of sampling error of three percentage points for the total sample.

Dems retreat to coasts as GOP rules vast interior
Excerpt: Here's an exercise for some evening when you're curious about big nationwide trends in this year's elections. Get an outline map showing the 50 states and take a look at the latest poll averages in in each race for senator and governor. Color in the percentage (rounded off; no need for tenths) by which either the Republican or Democratic candidate is leading (I use blue for Republicans, red for Democrats) in each state. The results are revealing, even breathtaking. The map of the Senate races shows Republicans leading over almost all the landmass of America.

NBPP’s King Samir Shabazz Says Whites Use Black Babies as ‘Alligator Bait,’ Laments ‘Fox Jews’
Talk about playing the race card! Of course, liberals say blacks can’t be racist, as members of a minority, so spewing hate based on race is okay, I guess. ~Bob. Excerpt: A video recently released by Election Journal shows New Black Panther Party member King Samir Shabazz railing against the media and defending his remarks calling for the death of white babies. The video, which includes a date stamp of August 9, 2010 and says it takes place in Harlem, features the hate-spewing King Samir attacking Fox: “This is what King Samir and the Philadelphia chapter, along with the guidance and leadership of attorney Malik Shabazz, has been doing that you don’t hear about from Fox Jews; I’m sorry, Fox News.” “Let’s talk about the little black babies that you use as alligator bait,” he adds:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Political Digest September 29, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Must read: Bowing to Islam's view of us by Mark Steyn
Excerpt: While I've been talking about free speech in Copenhagen, several free speech issues arose in North America. I was asked about them both at the Sappho Award event and in various interviews, so here's a few thoughts for what they're worth: Too many people in the free world have internalized Islam’s view of them. A couple of years ago, I visited Guantanamo and subsequently wrote that, if I had to summon up Gitmo in a single image, it would be the brand-new copy of the Koran in each cell: To reassure incoming prisoners that the filthy infidels haven't touched the sacred book with their unclean hands, the Korans are hung from the walls in pristine, sterilized surgical masks. It's one thing for Muslims to regard infidels as unclean, but it's hard to see why it's in the interests of us infidels to string along with it and thereby validate their bigotry. What does that degree of prostration before their prejudices tell them about us? It’s a problem that Muslims think we’re unclean. It’s a far worse problem that we go along with it. Take this no-name pastor from an obscure church who was threatening to burn the Koran. He didn’t burn any buildings or women and children. He didn’t even burn a book. He hadn’t actually laid a finger on a Koran, and yet the mere suggestion that he might do so prompted the president of the United States to denounce him, and the secretary of state, and the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, various G7 leaders, and golly, even Angelina Jolie. President Obama has never said a word about honor killings of Muslim women. Secretary Clinton has never said a word about female genital mutilation. General Petraeus has never said a word about the rampant buggery of pre-pubescent boys by Pushtun men in Kandahar. But let an obscure man in Florida so much as raise the possibility that he might disrespect a book – an inanimate object – and the most powerful figures in the Western world feel they have to weigh in. When someone destroys a Bible, U.S. government officials don’t line up to attack him. President Obama bowed lower than a fawning maitre d’ before the King of Saudi Arabia, a man whose regime destroys Bibles as a matter of state policy, and a man whose depraved religious police forces schoolgirls fleeing from a burning building back into the flames to die because they’d committed the sin of trying to escape without wearing their head scarves. If you show a representation of Mohammed, European commissioners and foreign ministers line up to denounce you. If you show a representation of Jesus Christ immersed in your own urine, you get a government grant for producing a widely admired work of art. Likewise, if you write a play about Jesus having gay sex with Judas Iscariot.

Limiting or limited government
Good article. Posted with permission.

Politics Versus Gold by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: One of the many slick tricks of the Obama administration was to insert a provision in the massive Obamacare legislation regulating people who sell gold. This had nothing to do with medical care but everything to do with sneaking in an extension of the government's power over gold, in a bill too big for most people to read. Gold has long been a source of frustration for politicians who want to extend their power over the economy. First of all, the gold standard cramped their style because there is only so much money you can print when every dollar bill can be turned in to the government, to be exchanged for the equivalent amount of gold. When the amount of money the government can print is limited by how much gold the government has, politicians cannot pay off a massive national debt by just printing more money and repaying the owners of government bonds with dollars that are cheaper than the dollars with which the bonds were bought. In other words, politicians cannot cheat people as easily. That was just one of the ways that the gold standard cramped politicians' style-- and just one of the reasons they got rid of it. One of Franklin D. Roosevelt's first acts as president was to take the United States off the gold standard in 1933. But, even with the gold standard gone, the ability of private individuals to buy gold reduces the ability of the government to steal the value of their money by printing more money. Inflation is a quiet but effective way for the government to transfer resources from the people to itself, without raising taxes. A hundred dollar bill would buy less in 1998 than a $20 bill would buy in the 1960s. This means that anyone who kept his money in a safe over those years would have lost 80 percent of its value, because no safe can keep your money safe from politicians who control the printing presses….. Whether gold is a good investment for individuals, and whether the gold standard is the right system for a country, are much more complicated questions than can be answered here. But what is clear is that the Obama administration sees people's freedom to buy and sell gold as something that can limit what the government can do. Indeed, freedom in general cramps the government's style. Those on the left may not be against freedom in general. But, at every turn, they find the freedoms granted by the Constitution of the United States hampering the left's agenda of imposing their superior wisdom and virtue on the rest of us. The desire to restrain or control the buying and selling of gold is just one of the many signs of the inherent conflict between the freedom of the individual and the left's attempts to control our lives.

Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?,8599,1893946,00.html#ixzz10lvQKa7h
Excerpt: Pop quiz: Which European country has the most liberal drug laws? (Hint: It's not the Netherlands.) Although its capital is notorious among stoners and college kids for marijuana haze–filled "coffee shops," Holland has never actually legalized cannabis — the Dutch simply don't enforce their laws against the shops. The correct answer is Portugal, which in 2001 became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. At the recommendation of a national commission charged with addressing Portugal's drug problem, jail time was replaced with the offer of therapy. The argument was that the fear of prison drives addicts underground and that incarceration is more expensive than treatment — so why not give drug addicts health services instead? Under Portugal's new regime, people found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs are sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser for appropriate treatment (which may be refused without criminal punishment), instead of jail. The question is, does the new policy work? At the time, critics in the poor, socially conservative and largely Catholic nation said decriminalizing drug possession would open the country to "drug tourists" and exacerbate Portugal's drug problem; the country had some of the highest levels of hard-drug use in Europe. But the recently released results of a report commissioned by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, suggest otherwise. The paper, published by Cato in April, found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled. "Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does." (For a long time, I have thought this could be a legitimate option, mostly for economic reasons (deprive the business of its profits and soon no one else would enter the field). It also turns out to have useful unintended consequences, at least in Portugal. Ron P I’m for legalizing drug, having them sold by government license. Take the profit motive out, and reduce the need of the slimeball druggies to steal, prostitute or hook others. Then I’d shoot anyone caught selling without a license. My first preference, of course, would be to kill all dealers, but I can’t figure out how, so this seems better. ~Bob.)

J Street's a crooked road
Excerpt: The organization succeeded in identifying a leftist constituency looking for a voice in Washington. But 'The Washington Times' exposé is so devastating to its credibility and standing that its constituency needs a new champion Bravo to The Washington Times' national security correspondent Eli Lake for his exposé of J Street over the weekend. The so-called pro-Israel organization is bursting with scandals about the identity of its contributors, its decision-making process, its conflicting policies on Iran sanctions, its ties to pro-Iranian and Arab American organizations and more. But many reporters have been reluctant to shine a spotlight on it, fearful of running afoul of the White House, for whom J Street proudly serves as President Barack Obama's "blocking back." Since J Street's founding, Jeremy Ben-Ami has repeatedly lied about his organization's dependence on Israel's super-critic George Soros. Lake revealed that J Street's US tax records prove that Soros and his family are major contributors.

Free Speech or Free Tokes
Excerpt: Kevin Grimsinger came forward this summer as a special forces veteran who had lost parts of his legs in Operation Enduring Freedom. I wrote about him in July when he led the movement in Colorado to qualify veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder for medical marijuana. As it turns out, the double-amputee didn't serve in Afghanistan and wasn't injured by a land mine, as he claimed. Records show his military service ended a decade before he said he was hurt fighting in Kandahar in 2001. He was, in fact, paralyzed as a civilian in a crash on a mountain road in Southern California where, as he now tells it, he was trying to kill himself.... For his aunt in Northglenn — the first to speak out about his history — it's a classic case of stolen valor. "It's not right that he's living his life pretending to be some kind of war hero," said Linda DeBruyn, whose husband and son are war veterans....

Mexico Asks U.S. To Stop Deporting Serious Criminals
No big deal. I agree with them. We should just shoot them. ~Bob. Excerpt: In a flabbergasting request, a coalition of Mexican lawmakers has asked the United States to stop deporting illegal immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes in American courts. The preposterous demand was made at a recent southern California conference in which the mayors of four Mexican cities that border the U.S. gathered to discuss cross-border issues. The only American mayor who attended the biannual event was San Diego’s Jerry Sanders, evidently because his city hosted it this year at a fancy downtown hotel. Among the cross-border topics that were addressed at the conference was the deportation of Mexican citizens who have committed violent crimes in the U.S. The felons are persona non grata in their communities, say the mayors of Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nogales and Nuevo Laredo. They want U.S. officials to stem the deportation of such convicts to their cities, according to a local newspaper report [1] that covered the conference.

Wow: The Liberal San Francisco Chronicle Refuses to Endorse Barbara Boxer Over GOP Opponent Carly Fiorina…
Excerpt: Californians are left with a deeply unsatisfying choice for the U.S. Senate this year. The incumbent, Democrat Barbara Boxer, has failed to distinguish herself during her 18 years in office. There is no reason to believe that another six-year term would bring anything but more of the same uninspired representation. The challenger, Republican Carly Fiorina, has campaigned with a vigor and directness that suggests she could be effective in Washington – but for an agenda that would undermine this nation’s need to move forward on addressing serious issues such as climate change, health care and immigration. It is extremely rare that this editorial page would offer no recommendation on any race, particularly one of this importance. This is one necessary exception.

FBI Escorts Known Hamas Operative Through Top-Secret National Security Ctr.
Excerpt: A known Hamas operative and unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in U.S. history – Kifah Mustapha – was recently escorted into the top-secret National Counterterrorism Center and other secure government facilities, including the FBI’s training center at Quantico, during a six-week “Citizen’s Academy” hosted by the FBI as part of its “outreach” to the Muslim Community. The group was accompanied by reporter Ben Bradley of WLS-Chicago (ABC), who filed a report on the trip to Washington D.C. on Sunday, who observed: Sheik Kifah Mustapha, who runs the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, asked some of the most pointed questions during the six week FBI Citizens’ Academy and trip to Washington. He pushed agents to fully explain everything from the bureau’s use of deadly force policy to racial and ethnic profiling. “I saw a very interesting side of what the FBI does and I wanted to know more,” Sheik Mustapha explained after returning from D.C. He hopes the FBI’s outreach runs deeper than positive public relations. Yes, I bet he wanted to know everything about the FBI’s policies. Curiously, Bradley’s report on the Citizen’s Academy fails to make note Mustapha’s extensive terrorist ties and support for Hamas, including his former employment with the Holy Land Foundation, which was listed as a specially designated terrorist group by the U.S. government in December 2001, and whose executives were convicted of terrorism support in 2008 and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Mustapha was personally named unindicted co-conspirator (#31) in the case and employment records submitted by federal prosecutors during the trial showed that he received more than $154,000 for his work for the Holy Land Foundation between 1996 and 2000. During the trial, FBI Special Agent Lara Burns testified that Mustapha also sang in a band sponsored by the Holy Land Foundation that regularly featured songs dedicated to killing Jews and glorifying Hamas. In a deposition he gave in a civil trial concerned with the murder of a Chicago teenager killed by Hamas while waiting for a bus in Israel, Mustapha admitted that he was the registered agent for the Holy Land Foundation in Illinois, and also to his involvement with other Hamas front groups, including the Islamic Association for Palestine. He was later hired as an imam by the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, which the Chicago Tribune reported in 2004 has long been a hotbed of Hamas support.

Twitter feeds and blogs tell hidden story of Mexico's drug wars
Excerpt: A small army of bloggers and tweeters is filling the gaps left by traditional media in Mexico that are increasingly limiting their coverage of the country's drug wars because of pressure from the cartels. "Shots fired by the river, unknown number of dead," read one recent tweet on a busy feed from the northern border city of Reynosa, #Reynosafollow. "Organized crime blockade on San Fernando road lifted," said another. "Just saw police officers telling a group of narcos about the positions of navy checkpoints," ran a third. Nothing of this kind appeared in the city's papers which, along with most media outlets in the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas, have become better known for what they do not publish than for what they do. Tamaulipas is one of the most intense battlegrounds of the drug wars being fought in Mexico between the federal forces and at least seven cartels.

Justice lawyer commits suicide
I wasn’t a fan of Stevens, but I thought a conviction that got him defeated, then the conviction was over-turned for misconduct after the election, was wrong. ~Bob. Excerpt: A Justice Department lawyer under investigation for possible misconduct in the prosecution of former senator Ted Stevens of Alaska committed suicide over the weekend, the law firm representing him confirmed….Marsh was among several lawyers on the Justice team that prosecuted Stevens, a Republican. Stevens was defeated in his reelection bid shortly after his 2008 conviction and died Aug. 9 in a plane crash in Alaska.

Household income plunged in 2009
If “Blame Bush” stops working, they’ll blame Hoover. Nothing to do with the Democrats, who took over Congress in January, 2007. ~Bob. Excerpt: Household incomes plunged for the second year in a row in 2009, as fewer families earned over $100,000 a year and the ranks of the poor rose, according to census statistics released Tuesday. Incomes are down about four percent since the recession began in December of 2007. That year, median household income was $52,384. Median household income last year was $50,221, down more than $1,500 from the median income of $51,726 that the Census Bureau reported for 2008. Almost one in five households--19.7 percent--reported incomes of $100,000 or more in 2009, the census reported.

Restoring America's Growth
Excerpt: The 2010 election fight is about uprooting Washington's antigrowth mindset regarding the role of federal government. If post-election Washington finds the backbone and procedures to spend less and return power to the people, their businesses and states, capital will rush back into the United States, providing the jobs and investment needed to compete globally. Many of the steps needed to strengthen the economy, create jobs and attract global capital are clear, says Forbes Magazine. Cut wasteful federal spending. With $3.8 trillion to choose from, the starting point should be such favorite pets as earmarks and the $6 billion annual ethanol subsidy. Cuts like this would likely pay America 10-to-1 through capital inflows as the United States improves its scorecard. Corporate tax reform. The U.S. has the second-highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. A lower rate on a broader base would significantly improve our scorecard. Small business credit. Washington has erected massive regulatory systems to channel capital from banks to Washington instead of to small businesses. Savers lose through the low interest rates paid by Treasury, banks lose in terms of lending skills and profit, and the nation loses when small businesses don't hire. Pension reform. The federal government has substantial influence on state and local pension systems through accounting rules, taxpayer subsidies and open-ended guarantees. State and local governments should be pushed to shift toward a federal-style 401(k) pension system. Also, current tax rates should be extended. This would encourage profit and new business innovation, adding investment and jobs, says Forbes.

Only trade-fuelled growth can help the world’s poor
Excerpt: But current experience and history both speak loudly that the only real engine of growth out of poverty is private business, and there is no evidence that aid fuels such growth. Of the eight goals, only the eighth faintly recognises private investment, through its call for a “non-discriminatory trading system”. This anodyne language refers to the scandal of rich countries perpetuating barriers that favour a tiny number of their businesses at the expense of impoverished millions elsewhere. Yet the trade-related MDG received virtually no attention from the wider campaign, has seen no action, and even its failure has received virtually no attention in the current MDG summit hoopla. This is all the more misguided because trade-fuelled growth not only decreases poverty, but also indirectly helps all the other MDGs. Yet in the US alone, the violations of the trade goal are legion. US consumers have long paid about twice the world price for sugar because of import quotas protecting about 9,000 domestic sugar producers. The European Union is similarly guilty. Equally egregious subsidies are handed out to US cotton producers, which flood the world market, depressing export prices. These hit the lowest-cost cotton producers in the global economy, which also happen to be some of the poorest nations on earth: Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad. According to an Oxfam study, eliminating US cotton subsidies would “improve the welfare of over one million West African households - 10 million people - by increasing their incomes from cotton by 8 to 20 per cent”.

9/11 Commission chief: Obama hasn't made significant foreign policy progress
Excerpt: When it comes to foreign policy "not a lot of progress has been made" under President Obama, the Democratic co-chairman of the 9/11 commission said Monday. Former Rep. Lee Hamilton (Ind.), who remains a well-respected figure in foreign policy circles, cited North Korea's nuclear capabilities and Iran's nuclear ambitions while arguing that Obama still has much to accomplish.

Are Democrats really that out of touch?
Excerpt: Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s (D-Calif.) invitation to comedian Stephen Colbert to testify before a House subcommittee on immigration was particularly tone-deaf — but it doesn’t come as a surprise. Perhaps the biggest problem for Democrats this election season is not their legislative record, but their apparent disconnect from the values and primary concerns of the American public. A survey commissioned by the Independent Women’s Voice and conducted by Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen in mid-September found that 81 percent of independents say the federal government and Washington lawmakers are out of touch with Americans like themselves. And the recent episode with Colbert was a spectacular confirmation of that opinion. Inviting a comedian to poke fun at a critically important policy concern — one that affects our national and economic security — was not only inappropriate but also insulting to those whose lives are affected by immigration reform. Time after time, President Obama has shown he is out of step with the American public: His decision to send his daughters to an elite private school, while cutting the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program; his embrace of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez; his fumbling of the Henry Louis Gates debacle last summer; first lady Michelle Obama’s lavish trip to Spain; his stumbling response to the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. The White House continually misreads the feelings and concerns of the public. And this disconnect and sense of elitism has been no less apparent in Congress, whose big-spending, big-government legislative agenda runs counter to the interests of the people they represent.

47 Dems call for freeze on investment taxes
They don’t mean it. Just pre-election jitters. Biz as usual November 3 if they get re-elected. ~Bob. Excerpt: Forty-seven House Democrats have signed a letter calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to extend the current tax rate on capital gains and dividends. "By keeping dividends and capital gains tax rates linked and low for everyone, we can help the private sector create jobs and allow seniors and middle-class households to save and invest more," the letter states. Under current law, beginning next year capital gains will be taxed at 20 percent while dividends will be taxed at ordinary income rates that go as high as 39.6 percent. The White House has called for placing a 20 percent tax on capital gains and dividends next year. However, pay-as-you-go rules stipulate that the cost for changing the dividend tax must have to be paid for -- unless Congress waives the rule.

Poor Immigrants: Asset or Burden?
Excerpt: America's fast-growing Latino population is famously hard working. It also has high rates for teenage pregnancy and dropping out of high school, two markers for poverty. Falling education levels should worry any country seeking to compete in the global economy. Are these poor immigrants "an asset or an albatross?" San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro provocatively asked the National Conference of Editorial Writers, meeting here in Dallas. One thing is undeniable: America is rapidly becoming more Hispanic, through both immigration and Latinos' higher birthrates. Such growth is fastest in the Southwest but happening everywhere. "By 2023, over 50 percent of children in America will be non-Anglo," former U.S. Census Bureau chief Steve Murdock also told the group. By 2050, over half of the labor force will be so-called minorities. ("Anglo" refers to most anyone who isn't Hispanic, black or Asian.) All the above belongs on the table for any honest discussion of U.S. immigration reform. The number-crunchers excel at spelling out the demographic realities now and in the likely future. What they don't do is determine whether these trends are good, for whom they are good and whether they should continue. That is for the American public to decide. And in wrestling with the issues, it would help to set aside both political correctness and racism. (My experience as an American citizen living in Los Angeles is that the immigrants here, whether legal or illegal, and the Latinos in particular, do not treat me or my country with dignity. When I first came to LA five years ago, I was really excited about it. I thought the mix of new cultures here was going to be fun. Now I know there is no mix. It is every man for himself here. This is the lawless Wild West all over again. But in those early, heady days, I was all for the illegals and believed there was room for all of us here. That was before I understood that the immigrants, and the Latinos in particular, both legal and illegal, have no room for me here, no room for Americans, no room for whites, no room for anyone who is not "one of them." I have been a very frequent witness to, in particular, the Hispanics' contempt for us and for our way of life. I am talking about Hispanics of all classes. It is not only the lower class illegals. These people do not govern themselves. They don't know what it means to govern one's self. We need to get all the illegals out now. –Kate. My high school classmate and a liberal—until she started collage late in life in L.A. ~Bob.)

Waiting for Superman: A Masterpiece of Moral Clarity
Excerpt: In an era when, in order to hold on to power and take control of our lives, the Left tells Big Lies just as quickly as they can make them up, along comes Guggenheim, an acknowledged pro-union liberal, to take on the most powerful, and in my opinion destructive, special interest group in America: the national teachers union. Whatever his personal beliefs were as he began the process of documenting the fate of five children whose very futures rest on the less-than 10% chance of being accepted into a charter school, in the end Guggenheim risks the grave sin of apostasy as he courageously bucks the left-wing narrative to present a heartbreaking and damning exposé of the American public school system. Had the exact same film been brought forth by a right-winger it would have had zero chance of creating any kind of national debate, much less change. But coming with Guggenheim’s clout and left-wing bona fides, there’s a chance his noble effort could spread a Road to Damascus virus among those who have for too long turned a blind eye towards an indefensibly immoral system propped up at the expense of children. Armed with facts and actual inconvenient truths, “Superman” deconstructs every lie told by politicians, union officials and bad teachers in defense of a status quo that destroys as many, if not more lives than drugs or gangs.

Education Reform’s Kryptonite
Excerpt: “It’s heartbreaking,” President Obama said about a scene in the new Waiting for Superman documentary. “And when you see these parents in the film, you are reminded that — I don’t care what people’s income levels are, you know, their stake in their kids, their wanting desperately to make sure their kids are able to succeed is so powerful, and it’s obviously difficult to watch to see these kids who know that this school’s going to give them a better chance, that that should depend on the bounce of a ball.” How can Obama possibly call this “heartbreaking” when one of his first acts as President was to snatch winning lottery spots from Washington, D.C. school children? Specifically, Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent letters to 216 low-income families informing them that he was taking back the $7,500 in scholarship money that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program had previously awarded them. Yesterday on NBC’s TODAY Show, Obama admitted that daughters Sasha and Malia deserve better than D.C. public schools — that’s the reason he sends them to a tony private school with other Washington elites. So then why is Obama blocking other kids from the same opportunity? It would’ve been the logical follow-up question for Matt Lauer to ask. But just like the rest of NBC’s Education Nation series, Lauer let Obama off easy.

Obama: Democratic voter apathy 'inexcusable'
If they don’t show up, he won’t promise to be a god anymore. Agree with him that “change is hard.” It’s been damn hard on America so far. ~Bob. Excerpt: Admonishing his own party, President Barack Obama says it would be "inexcusable" and "irresponsible" for unenthusiastic Democratic voters to sit out the midterm elections, warning that the consequences could be a squandered agenda for years. "People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up," Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday. The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and "if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place." The midterm elections are in five weeks and polling shows that Republicans, out of power at the White House and on Capitol Hill, have a much more excited base of supporters than Democrats. Obama, campaigning this week in four states, is in a sprint to restore the voter passion that helped him win office.

Building the next subprime crisis
Excerpt: President Obama and Democrats in Congress haven't moved to stop subprime lending -- they've just taken it over. They've created a federal subprime-lending monopoly by seizing control of the financial apparatus -- Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration -- and lending 100 percent of the home price to borrowers who can't afford it. Private lenders can't make these loans -- they need to get paid back. On Sept. 9, I reported that Fannie had forged a subprime partnership with state housing-finance agencies called "Affordable Advantage": Fannie agreed to buy loans from housing-finance agencies for which the buyer puts down $1,000 or less -- in at least one case, just 67 cents. On Sept. 15, the House Government-Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee held a hearing on Fannie and Freddie. Since these two GSEs have cost the taxpayers $148 billion (so far), Reps. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) took their regulator to task over Affordable Advantage. Edward J. DeMarco, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, sheepishly replied, "This one got away from us" and then promised "you won't be hearing about additional programs such as this." But DeMarco also testified that Fannie's contracts to buy these zero-down loans from HFAs don't expire until next March -- and he can't tell Fannie to stop. Baloney. Obama controls the GSEs -- they were seized by Bush and placed in federal conservatorship; Obama OK'd $42 million in bonuses for their top brass last Christmas. They're making subprime loans because the boss wants them to. (What they are doing is, as usual, buying votes with your grandkids’ money. ~Bob.)

Congress tussles over Dem dough
Excerpt: House and Senate Democrats are increasingly competing against one another over a small universe of deep-pocketed donors who could make a financial difference in the final stretch before the midterm elections. In some cases, donors report that they are being urged to fund Senate campaigns at the expense of the House, where Democrats are in danger of losing their majority. One House Democratic fundraiser said that some Senate operatives are telling big donors and union officials, “The House is lost; you have to save the Senate.” While top Senate Democrats insist they don’t use that line, some House strategists are playing their own angle. Their money pitch: House Democrats have worked overtime to pass President Barack Obama’s sweeping agenda, parts of which have been stymied in the intractable Senate. The intense intraparty competition in the final weeks of the campaign shows that “everybody is frantically trying to raise money,” said Tony Podesta, a well-known Washington lobbyist and a top fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Five most competitive Senate races
Excerpt: The flurry of polls, ads and press releases can’t obscure the fact that the outlook for the Senate is beginning to harden. As the 2010 campaign winds toward its final month, Democrats look like they’ll need Hail Mary passes in states like Arkansas and Indiana. In Delaware, a ripe GOP pickup opportunity seems to have been scuttled. Elsewhere, consistent polling has formed a rough consensus about the direction of several races. Still, there is a set of Senate contests — marked by unpredictable candidates, razor-thin polling margins or a conflicted electorate — that seem destined to produce photo finishes on Election Day. With just five weeks left, here’s POLITICO’s list of the five most competitive Senate battles.

Harvard Pilgrim cancels Medicare Advantage plan
Excerpt: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has notified customers that it will drop its Medicare Advantage health insurance program at the end of the year, forcing 22,000 senior citizens in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine to seek alternative supplemental coverage. The decision by Wellesley-based Harvard Pilgrim, the state’s second-largest health insurer, was prompted by a freeze in federal reimbursements and a new requirement that insurers offering the kind of product sold by Harvard Pilgrim — a Medicare Advantage private fee for service plan — form a contracted network of doctors who agree to participate for a negotiated amount of money. Under current rules, patients can seek care from any doctor. (But ObamaCare will increase coverage, reduce the deficit and lower healthcare costs, while providing more benefits and allowing everyone to keep the coverage they have. BO promised. Biggest lie since “the Check is in the Mail. ~Bob.)

Drones Target Terror Plot
Excerpt: In an effort to foil a suspected terrorist plot against European targets, the Central Intelligence Agency has ramped up missile strikes against militants in Pakistan's tribal regions, current and former officials say. The strikes, launched from unmanned drone aircraft, represent a rare use of the CIA's drone campaign to preempt a possible attack on the West. The terror plot, which officials have been tracking for weeks, is believed to target multiple countries, including the U.K., France, and Germany, these officials said. The exact nature of the plot or plots couldn't be learned immediately, and counterterrorism officials in the U.S., Pakistan and Europe are continuing to investigate. There have, however, been multiple terror warnings in recent days in France, Germany and the U.K. "There are some pretty notable threat streams," said one U.S. military official, who added that the significance of these threats is still being discussed among counterterrorism officials but that threats of this height are unusual. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to discuss the current European terrorism intelligence with her European counterparts at a U.N. aviation security meeting this week in Montreal. "We are in constant contact with our colleagues abroad," she told a Senate panel last week. "We are all seeing increased activity by a more diverse set of groups and a more diverse set of threats. That activity, much of which is Islamist in nature, is directed at the West generally." (OMG, Napolitano said "Islamist." Now, won't they have to flog her or something? Ron P. They’ll just cut off her white wine and Brie for a week. ~Bob.)

The Kennedy-Nixon Debates: JFK Lied, Cubans Died,_cubans_died
Excerpt: Nothing of the sort, we’re given to understand, marred those heady and substantive debates of yore. Take Kennedy’s claim that President Eisenhower had fallen asleep (or gone golfing) during his command and allowed a perilous “missile gap” to grow between the U.S. and the Soviets. In fact a huge gap had grown (roughly six thousand for us, three hundred for the Soviets) Might this qualify as an “outrageous claim” by Kennedy? Not if your source is Ted Sorensen and the New York Times. In fact, prior to the debates, CIA director Allen Dulles had briefed Kennedy on the genuine missile numbers. But rather than respond to this genuinely outrageous claim, Nixon bit his tongue. Disclosing the real number (that JFK knew perfectly well) in public would alert the Soviets to how we got their number, and jeopardize U.S. national security. Which is to say, to blindside his Republican opponent Kennedy relied on that opponent's patriotism. Let's face it, Republicans are at a woeful disadvantage here. "The Republicans have allowed a communist dictatorship to flourish eight jet minutes from our borders!” Kennedy charged during the second debate. “We must support anti-Castro fighters. So far these freedom fighters have received no help from our government." Here again JFK’s “extremist rhetoric,” was a pre-meditated lie. Unlike the John Lovitz character on "Saturday Night Live," JFK lied expertly, with a straight face.

White Women Dump the Dems
Excerpt: Downcast Democrats have generated a boomlet of optimism in the last few days. Last week’s Gallup results put the Dems an amazing one point ahead on who voters would prefer generically for Congress—the second such showing in the last three weeks, indicating they’re not dead yet. The New York Times ran an article about how the Democrats have a fundraising edge in some tight races. And on Thursday, the Democrats released a bunch of internal polls which purport to show that they can defend their control of Congress. This despite the steady drumbeat of polls showing that their 2008 miracle voters—the young and the nonwhite—are so not interested in picking the Congress as they were in picking the president. I hate to be a (Democratic) party pooper, but here’s the next piece of bad news. Guess who’s not coming out to vote? White women. The enthusiasm among all women is down, but Gallup shows that white women are the least enthusiastic of all the major demographic groups.

Pakistan and the U.S. Exit From Afghanistan
Excerpt: It is interesting to reflect on the institutional inevitability of these disagreements. The military is involved in a war. It is institutionally and emotionally committed to victory in the theater of combat. It will demand all available resources for executing the war under way. For a soldier who has bled in that war, questioning the importance of the war is obscene. A war must be fought relentlessly and with all available means. But while the military’s top generals and senior civilian leadership are responsible for providing the president with sound, clearheaded advice on all military matters including the highest levels of grand strategy, they are ultimately responsible for the pursuit of military objectives to which the commander-in-chief directs them. Generals must think about how to win the war they are fighting. Presidents must think about whether the war is worth fighting. The president is responsible for America’s global posture. He must consider what an unlimited commitment to a particular conflict might mean in other regions of the world where forces would be unavailable. A president must take a more dispassionate view than his generals. He must calculate not only whether victory is possible but also the value of the victory relative to the cost. Given the nature of the war in Afghanistan, U.S. President Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus — first the U.S. Central Command chief and now the top commander in Afghanistan — had to view it differently. This is unavoidable. This is natural. And only one of the two is ultimately in charge.

Mark Tapscott: Loads of campaign cash make Big Green a Democratic powerhouse
Excerpt: Officials of a dozen top Big Green environmental groups contributed more than $14.5 million to congressional and presidential candidates in 2008 and through the second quarter of 2010 with 96 percent of the total going to Democrats, according to an Examiner analysis of federal campaign data. The data was compiled from the Federal Election Commission and included only donations by individuals who listed one of the 12 groups as their employer or listed themselves as an officer or director of one or more of the groups. This analysis does not include contributions by individuals who did not list an employer. The groups included the Audubon Society, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, the Environmental Defense Action Fund, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, Ocean Champions, Sierra Club, the Trust for Public Land and the Wilderness Society. (Part two of five parts. At the end of the piece is a link to a related article at PajamasMedia. Ron P. With Al Gore raking in over $100M from his global Warming gig, you’d think he’d share with fellow statists. ~Bob.)

The "Islamophobia" Weapon
Excerpt: It is not at all established that “Islamophobia” really is growing. In fact, the FBI has recently released data establishing that hate crimes against Muslims are comparatively rare. But if there is any actual suspicion of or negative feelings toward Muslims in the United States, it is solely and wholly the responsibility of Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood jihadist; Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas underwear jihadist; Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, who killed one soldier and murdered another in a jihad shooting outside a military recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark.; Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square jihadist; Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and Osama bin Laden on 9/11; the London jihad bombers of July 7, 2005; and so many others. Yet Ihsanoglu, with an evasion of responsibility that is characteristic of Islamic supremacists, pretends that non-Muslims are growing more suspicious of Muslims and Islam not because of this, but because of some gratuitous bigotry. This is a tried and tested tactic, designed precisely to divert attention from Islamic jihad attacks and to shame and discredit those who would dare stand up to jihad (both violent and stealth) and Islamic supremacism in the West. Without any reference to the pandemic of jihad violence either in the U.S. or worldwide, Ihsanoglu referred instead to a “pandemic of Islam vilification” in the U.S. and Europe, and declared: “We need an all inclusive effort of OIC member states to stem this menace. That is why I firmly believe that this question of Islamophobia should figure prominently on the agenda of all OIC member states whenever they deal with their Western counterparts.” What Ihsanoglu and the OIC want Western states to do is limit the freedom of speech regarding Islam and jihad. In 2008 he issued a dictatorial warning: “We sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed” regarding free speech about Islam and terrorism. And he reported success: “The official West and its public opinion are all now well-aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.” Since then he has encountered success beyond his wildest dreams, for the Obama Administration has extended and broadened the Bush policy of refraining from speaking about Islam and jihad in connection with acts of Islamic jihad terrorism. The absurdity of this policy reached its apex with the official report on the Fort Hood massacre, which blithely ignored Nidal Hasan’s clear, public, and repeated adherence to Islamic jihad doctrine, his cries of “Allahu akbar” as he committed his murders, and his passing out of Korans on the morning of his massacre.

Extremists in Sweden ride immigration wave
“Extremists” is media code for “Anti-jihadists” “Islamophobic” is code for “Supports Freedom of Speech and Religion, opposes terrorism.” ~Bob. Excerpt: In a seismic upheaval in Swedish politics, an extreme-right movement accused of being Islamophobic has won seats in the country's Parliament, observers say. Election victories by the Sweden Democrats, a party widely denounced as "racist and neo-Nazi," have probably saddled the country with a fragile minority government, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported.

He's not that Isaac Hayes, and people are starting to notice,0,3034126.column
A black conservative in Chicago, with the guys to run against Jesse Jackson, Jr., who got rich when his father race hustled Budweiser for his kids to get distributorships. ~Bob. Excerpt: I asked Hayes: How difficult is it being an African-American conservative in a district where the Jackson family machine is so dominant? "It's difficult if you're not willing to speak up about what you believe," Hayes said. "If you're weak, you wouldn't want to do it. It's my opinion that black conservatives have to have strong character. The easy smear is when you're called a traitor to your race, or an Uncle Tom. That happens a lot. "But just look at what's happened to the black community over the decades. Look at the family. Look at the lack of economic opportunity," he said. "These problems are in part because of liberal Democratic policies. But people like me get smeared as race traitors for not being liberal Democrats? That's ironic. But that's not why the media is interested in me." Reporters are now interested in Hayes because Jackson — a child of privilege who has always been about as deep as a teaspoon — has been weakened.

A sermon so very fitted to today
A sermon from a prominent rabbi to his congregation, but the message applies to us all. Not super short, but that's because it's a thorough description of history and how it relates to the present. –Del. Excerpt: I get it, but as a rabbi I have a compelling obligation, a responsibility to articulate what is in my heart and what I passionately believe must be said and must be heard. And so, I am guided not by what is easy to say but by what is painful to express. I am guided not by the frivolous but by the serious. I am guided not by delicacy but by urgency. We are at war. We are at war with an enemy as savage, as voracious, as heartless as the Nazis but one wouldn’t know it from our behavior. During WWII we didn’t refer to storm troopers as freedom fighters. We didn’t call the Gestapo, militants. We didn’t see the attacks on our Merchant Marine as acts by rogue sailors. We did not justify the Nazis rise to power as our fault. We did not grovel before the Nazis, thumping our hearts and confessing to abusing and mistreating and humiliating the German people. We did not apologize for Dresden, nor for The Battle of the Bulge, nor for El Alamein, nor for D-Day. Evil – ultimate, irreconcilable, evil threatened us and Roosevelt and Churchill had moral clarity and an exquisite understanding of what was at stake. It was not just the Sudetenland, not just Tubruk, not just Vienna, not just Casablanca. It was the entire planet. Read history and be shocked at how frighteningly close Hitler came to creating a Pax Germana on every continent. Not all Germans were Nazis – most were decent, most were revolted by the Third Reich, most were good citizens hoisting a beer, earning a living and tucking in their children at night. But, too many looked away, too many cried out in lame defense – I didn’t know.” Too many were silent. Guilt absolutely falls upon those who committed the atrocities, but responsibility and guilt falls upon those who did nothing as well. Fault was not just with the goose steppers but with those who pulled the curtains shut, said and did nothing. In WWII we won because we got it. We understood who the enemy was and we knew that the end had to be unconditional and absolute. We did not stumble around worrying about offending the Nazis. We did not measure every word so as not to upset our foe. We built planes and tanks and battleships and went to war to win….. to rid the world of malevolence. We are at war… yet too many stubbornly and foolishly don’t put the pieces together and refuse to identify the evil doers. We are circumspect and disgracefully politically correct. Let me mince no words in saying that from Fort Hood to Bali, from Times Square to London, from Madrid to Mumbai, from 9/11 to Gaza, the murderers, the barbarians are radical Islamists. To camouflage their identity is sedition. To excuse their deeds is contemptible. To mask their intentions is unconscionable.

Marines are changed by Afghan mission
Excerpt: Matt Garst earned the nickname "The Unbreakable Marine" during the campaign to pacify the area around the town of Marja. Garst, a corporal with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, was leading a squad to establish a checkpoint in late June when he moved into an abandoned compound where his squad could set up an observation post. That's when the world erupted in a shattering explosion. "I knew I'd hit an [improvised explosive device]," Garst said. Those around watched as the 6-foot-2 squad leader was hurtled more than 10 feet into the air. He was knocked out briefly upon hitting the ground. "I was pissed, but I was fine," Garst recalled. "I refused to be [evacuated]. I patrolled back with the guys and remember thinking, 'I hope I find the Taliban who did this so I can kill him.'?" It was a day in late July when U.S. Marine Cpl. Shelton Persons first realized the particular kind of hell his unit was facing as it patrolled near Marja. Persons -- of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment -- and 14 fellow Marines were moving along one side of a narrow river when he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He saw a bush across the river moving. Then a figure pulled a triggering device, and a deafening explosion shook the ground. The Marines survived intact but with a new appreciation for the perils of the area. "It feels like you're the new kid in school and you've got that eerie sketchy feeling that you're being watched all the time and you don't want to be there," said the young Marine, whose wife, Sarah Marie Persons, is expecting their second child in January. "Nothing feels right in that city. We're fighting to win over the people in the city while we're fighting the Taliban at the same time. Sometimes it all blends together."

DSCC spends another $165,000 against…O’Donnell?
Excerpt: Republican Christine O’Donnell claims to have raised $2.6 million in her longshot race to represent Delaware in the U.S. Senate. The DSCC evidently believes that she must be taken seriously. They’ve just purchased another $165,000 in airtime against her, according to FEC reports, bringing their total so far to $272,000. So if you count Delaware, Pennsylvania ($3M), and Missouri ($1.5M), the DSCC has split about two-thirds of its expenditures so far between races it probably cannot win and races it supposedly cannot lose.

Emanuel’s pot of green gold is called Exelon
Excerpt: President Obama’s White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is notorious for the maxim: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” If you’ve opened a newspaper or turned on the television any time in the last decade, you’ve no doubt seen someone trying to convince you that there is no bigger crisis than global warming. Lots of people have seen it as an opportunity to profit. One of those people is Emanuel. While working at the investment bank Wasserstein Perella, Emanuel helped put together the merger between Chicago utility company Unicom and Philadelphia utility Peco to create a mega-utility known as Exelon Corporation. Emanuel made $16.2 million during the two years he worked at Wasserstein Perella, and the Exelon merger was his biggest deal. White House strategist David Axelrod also has done consulting work for Exelon. Shortly after Exelon was created, the company sold off most of its coal-powered energy plants in order to concentrate on its 17 nuclear reactors. But building new nuclear energy plants is extraordinarily costly, so it’s not exactly a growth industry. So as big corporations often do, Exelon officials hatched an unusual plan to use government to make their company more profitable: leverage fears about global warming to help federal politicians and bureaucrats hamstring Exelon’s rivals through Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade anti-global warming program. Since nuclear plants put out mostly water vapor, Exelon recognized that its carbon-producing competitors would have to cope with the huge new tax and regulatory burdens sure to come if Obama’s proposal became law. The competitors would pass their higher operating costs to consumers in the form of higher prices.

The New Road to Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America
Excerpt: In March 2009, British conservative Daniel Hannan became a celebrity overnight when he assailed prime minister Gordon Brown on the floor of the European Parliament. The YouTube clip went viral, leading to whirlwind appearances on FOX News and other conservative media outlets. A thoughtful and articulate spokesman for conservative ideas, Hannan is better versed in America’s traditions and founding documents than many Americans are. In The New Road to Serfdom, Hannan argues forcefully and passionately that Americans must not allow Barack Obama to take them down the road to European Union–style social democracy. He pleads with Americans not to abandon the founding principles that have made their country a beacon of liberty for the rest of the world.